On November 25 2011 three Europeans were captured by masked gunmen in the Malian city of Timbuktu. Steven Malcolm, a dual South African and British national as well as Nils Joan Viktor Gustafson, a Swedish national, and Jacobus Nicolo Ruke, a Dutch national, were taken hostage by „Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb“ (AQIM) and have since then been held by the Islamists.
In April of this year AQIM offered to release all three men if the UK would stop the deportation of imprisoned Jihadist cleric Abu Qatada to the United States. The deal was not made.
Qatari TV-Channel Al-Jazeera was able to contact AQIM for a rare meeting the Malian desert. The journalists were allowed to interview the European hostages. Footage of this visit to the Al-Qaida fighters can be seen here